Racial Discrimination Act to be restored for Australian Aborigines

Jeffery Pepperill, an Anmatyerr man who lives with his wife and family at Camel Camp in the Utopia Homelands region © Rusty Stewart

It sounds too good to be true. The Australian government says it will next week start the process that will reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory and give Aboriginal people back the rights that non-Indigenous Australians enjoy -- and which they never should have been denied in the first place.

Yet there’s a sting in the tail: right now politicians are talking up loopholes that will allow the continuation of discriminatory and demeaning 'special measures' in the Northern Territory, such as the compulsory quarantining of welfare payments.

Racial discrimination cannot be partly removed -- add your name to stop discrimination against Indigenous Australians

Reports we’ve received from the Alyawarr homelands and in the Barkly region show that the blanket quarantining of welfare has created significant hardships, harming the vulnerable people it is designed to protect. Some have been unable to access food for up to two weeks, while others are forced to purchase food that arrives late and rotten. Young children, the elderly and those with health problems are the worst affected -- one elder told us he "black[ed] out from waiting for the tucker too long."

It’s really very simple. These draconian measures remove the rights of Indigenous people to manage their own money and their own lives. In August, when UN Representative for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya visited Australia, he found measures introduced as part of the Intervention to "overtly discriminate against Aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatise already stigmatised communities."

Write your urgent email calling for full reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, with no conditions and no excuses

Our Prime Minister is on the right track when he talks about 'closing the gap' and addressing Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, but this cannot be done with measures that threaten the futures of Aboriginal families and communities.

Leaders are judged by their actions, not by their words. If the Government thinks they can get away with this, then thousands of Australians united in opposition can make them think again: Please send your email right now.

With hope,

Sarah Marland
Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Australia

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Three months ago more than a hundred people walked out of a small Aboriginal community and refused to go back until the Australian federal government responded to their complaints about the lack of consultation and restrictions placed on them under the Northern Territory Emergency Response. Richard Downs, a spokesman for the Ampilatwatja community, explains their cause in a conversation with Phillip Adams on Radio National of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Hear it by clicking here. Hear (and read) more on YouTube by clicking here.